It's Google Apps Over Office 365 for The U.S. Department of the Interior
May 03, 2012
By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer
The United States Department of the Interior made a recent announcement that said they were looking to go with Google Apps for Government over Microsoft's (News - Alert) popular Office 365 program. This represents a significant sea change for the Department of the Interior, and possibly for the market as a whole.
The move was part of a new "efficiency initiative"--dubbed the IT Transformation initiative--geared toward getting modern technology to save taxpayer money, and looks to save as much as $500 million by 2020. The Google Apps for Government program will be handling the department's collaboration services needs as well as their cloud email systems. Users will be able to use web-based tools or more standard desktop software, as well as a host of new video chat and audio chat systems to back up text-based email systems. Familiar to many Google (News - Alert) tools like Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Sites will also be used to augment collaboration features at the agency.
The total value of the contract is $34,872,728 over the next seven years, so this is a substantial win for Google and a telling blow to Microsoft. Interestingly, this move actually followed a lawsuit staged by Google back in 2010, alleging that the U.S. Department of the Interior would only consider Microsoft products in their search for new products. Specifically, the Google suit mentioned that the Department of the Interior stated in its RFQ--Request For Quotation--documents that the solution specifically needed to be in the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite. Google called this "unduly restrictive of competition" and launched its suit. Though it later dropped the suit in September of 2011 following a promise that the Department of the Interior would adapt is RFQ documents to allow firms like Google to compete, the measure seems to have been at least peripherally effective, as they're now the new supplier.
This is, of course, a fundamental change in the business landscape, and an excellent example of how Google in general is not only gaining ground in the marketplace, but also of measures taken to ensure its continued existence beyond search engines and advertising. With systems like Siri, that can provide answers to people's questions while not only using Google to search but not returning an advertising view as well, gaining user respect, it's clear Google needs to diversify. YouTube (News - Alert) was a great start, but a growing user base for Google Apps certainly can't hurt. This isn't even Google's first win in the government sector, having previously signed deals with the City of Pittsburgh, among others.
The market is rapidly in flux, and will need to be watched over the coming months to see just where it all goes from here. But this could be a major shakeup all the same.
Edited by Brooke Neuman